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Why Mychal Kendricks may be on the field in 2019

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I’m going to start off by stating that fans who want facts and specifics can go ahead and close this story right now, because this is an attempt to look into the future by piecing together what little information is available. Most everybody knows that Mychal Kendricks and Damilare Sonoiki both plead guilty to one count of securities fraud (insider trading) and one count of conspiracy to commit insider trading last September, so since then it’s been a matter of awaiting sentencing.

For the most part, waiting is all that has been done. Kendricks was originally scheduled to be sentenced in December. But then his sentencing was rescheduled for January, then for April and is currently without a scheduled date after having been postponed indefinitely earlier this spring. As for anything new on his court case, there is nothing of note. One of the members of the team of attorneys that represented him is no longer on the case, but that appears to be because she received a promotion by moving to a new firm, so is not readily relevant to the situation for Kendricks.

However, there has been a development in the case of his co-defendant. Sonoiki had been looking at a sentencing date back in the spring, but as was widely reported back in March, that sentencing hearing has been pushed back to mid-July. That is an important fact to keep in mind when considering the most recent court filing in Sonoiki’s case.

In the beginning of May, Sonoiki petitioned the court for permission to travel. Following his guilty plea last September, Sonoiki had been required by the court to live with relatives in Texas pending his sentencing. However, in a filing on May 1, Sonoiki states that he is unemployed and there are limited jobs in the industry in which he has the most experience where he has been living in Texas. As such, he requested permission to travel outside of the state, specifically to the New York and Los Angeles areas, in order to seek employment and interview. On the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, the court approved Sonoiki’s request to travel for the purposes of seeking employment.

That is where things get interesting for Kendricks. Sonoiki’s sentencing is scheduled for July 15, which is six weeks away. Someone who is traveling halfway across the country looking for work typically isn’t looking for a six week temporary assignment. Further, someone who is traveling halfway across the country is not typically planning on spending 15-21 months in federal prison. That would seem to indicate that Sonoiki is hoping to stay out of prison, potentially on a house arrest or work release type of sentence.

Bringing that back to Kendricks, the fact that his co-defendant is looking for what would seem to be long-term employment and the fact that the sentencing for Kendricks has not been rescheduled would appear to potentially indicate that the two sentences are likely related. As noted, both Kendricks and Sonoiki plead guilty to the exact same two felonies back in September, and so there is no reason, in legal terms, why their sentences would be different.

Thus, it appears that what may have happened is that at the status conference the judge held on the matter back in April that the team of lawyers for Kendricks proposed to the judge some sort of sentence that would avoid incarceration, at least during the season. The judge would likely inquire as to why Kendricks should be allowed house arrest while his co-defendant would be looking at prison, and that in the interest of fairness, the two should have the same sentence. If that is indeed the case, it would explain the request for permission to travel to seek work and offer a possible explanation as to why no sentencing date has yet been set for Kendricks.

So, based on this it appears that whether or not the Seahawks have Kendricks available this season may rely on both the judge in the case and the job hunt prospects for his co-defendant. Obviously, there is nothing definitive at this point, and all we can do is try to piece together something from the few available pieces of information that are publicly available. In any case, with Sonoiki’s sentencing set for mid-July, fans should at least have some kind of idea about the situation for Kendricks before the start of training camp.